TREE OF HOPE

Through Florrie’s eyes readers experience the despair and hopelessness of talented actors who were forced to leave the stage to find other work when the Lafayette Theatre closed its doors; the golden days of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s have disappeared into the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Florrie’s father, once an actor, toils at the Allnight Bakery. Florrie’s greatest dream is for her father to be able to leave his job and return to the stage, and so she makes a wish on a tree that grows next to the Lafayette Theatre; it has become a symbol of endurance for black actors, a tree of hope. A director, Mr. Welles, arrives when President Roosevelt orders that the doors of the theatre be opened; there is to be a staging of Macbeth, and Florrie’s father gets a part. An author’s note attests to the veracity of events in the story, when Orson Welles directed African-Americans in roles from which they were once excluded. Cooper’s lavish oil-wash, full-page paintings pay mute tribute to the loss of luster and its regeneration in Harlem, in scenes in which the footlights cast a glow, and in which the faces tell a story that hardly needs words. (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23300-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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SNOW BEAR

In this sweetly sentimental story set in the frozen twilight of an Arctic spring, George (Morning, Noon, and Night, p. 699, etc.) tells of an Inuit girl who goes out to hunt. Bessie Nivyek sets out with her big brother, Vincent, to hunt for food; in a twist out of McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal, Bessie bumps into a young bear, and they frolic: climbing, sliding, somersaulting, and cuddling. Vincent spies the tracks of his little sister and follows, wary of the mother bear; the mother bear is just as wary of Vincent. Out of the water rears danger to both the child and cub—a huge male polar bear. The mother bear warns her cub; it runs away, as does Bessie. Brother and sister head back home, “to eat, go to school, and learn the wisdom of the Arctic like Eskimo children do.” The brief text is lyrical and the illustrations are striking, with an impressively varied palette of white, in blue, green, yellow, and gold. Children who note that Vincent goes home empty-handed will wonder why he didn’t hunt any of the polar bears that were within range. While children will enjoy this romantic view of Bessie and the bear, those seeking a more realistic representation of life in this harsh environment will be unsatisfied. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7868-0456-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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DIRT ON THEIR SKIRTS

THE STORY OF THE YOUNG WOMEN WHO WON THE WORLD OF CHAMPIONSHIP

During WWII, as men went overseas, women assumed many of their jobs; Rappaport and Callan enthusiastically invent a fictional witness to that historical moment when baseball, too, was taken over by women. Two teams from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the Rockford Peaches and the Racine Belles, are vying for the 1946 championship. It’s the bottom of the 14th and the score is 0-0. In the stands, Margaret’s father, having just returned from fighting overseas, has joined his family for this final game of the season. As the last inning unfolds, Margaret, shouting and cheering, can hardly wait until she’s old enough to join this group of talented women. While the Belles joyously celebrate their victory on the field, Margaret proudly recalls her mother’s words, “You do have to be tough to play baseball in a skirt.” The text benefits from Lewis’s full-page watercolors, which range from the antic and expressive to exquisitely solemn with tension. Curiously missing from the historical notes is any reference to the popular film, A League of Their Own, which first revived interest in the league. That doesn’t detract from a book that reminds readers not to restrict their dreams on the basis of gender. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8037-2042-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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